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Flagstaff

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Northern Arizona : Flagstaff
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Flagstaff

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For other places with the same name, see Flagstaff (disambiguation).
San Francisco Mountains north of Flagstaff

Flagstaff [1] is a city of over 52,000 people near the San Francisco Peaks mountain range of northern Arizona and the Grand Canyon, USA. Lying at an altitude of 6990 feet, Flagstaff and much of the surrounding region are substantially cooler than the low desert that dominates the southern part of the state. Though still dry by east coast standards, enough rain and snow falls in the area to allow a forest of ponderosa pine trees to cover the landscape.

Get in

Flagstaff is at the intersection of Interstate 40, which runs west to California and east to New Mexico (following historic Route 66) and Interstate 17, which runs south to Phoenix.

Amtrak's Southwest Chief [2] makes a stop in downtown Flagstaff.

There is regular scheduled commercial airline service to Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (IATA: FLG) [3]. US Airways (formerly known as America West) provides service, as well as several air charter carriers. The nearest city with major hub commercial airline service is Phoenix. Driving time between Flagstaff and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (IATA: PHX) [4] is greater than the 150-mile separation would suggest; the airport is on the opposite side of Phoenix from Flagstaff, and traffic jams in Phoenix are a problem. Allow two and a half hours or more to get from one to the other by car.

Get around

Flagstaff is stretched out along historic Route 66, which runs roughly east-west. The fairly small (about 5 blocks square) downtown is located on the western side of town, near the base of Mars Hill, the location of Lowell Observatory. Both I-40 and the BNSF railroad tracks run roughly parallel to Route 66. Northern Arizona University is located south of downtown and the tracks, but north of I-40. Here the north-south oriented Milton Road, which becomes I-17, is the main thoroughfare, with Route 66 heading west north of the railroad underpass.

The city is fairly bike-friendly, with many roads having bike lanes. There is also a bike path that runs along the south side of Route 66 from downtown to the east side of town.

The city and county operate The Mountain Line, a fairly comprehensive bus system.

Open Road Tours [5] will bring visitors from the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport to the Amtrak station in Flagstaff, the train depot in Williams, or the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

See

Flagstaff's historic downtown
  • Lowell Observatory, [6]. An astronomical research center at which the "planet" Pluto was discovered, this historic institution is on a mesa overlooking the west side of town. The staff leads guided daytime tours, and visitors use the Observatory's 24" Clark telescope and smaller portable telescopes during regular evening programs (inquire). Open 9AM-5PM daily and from 5:30PM (regular evenings) except some holidays. Fee.
  • The Museum of Northern Arizona, [7]. On the north side of town, it has displays on Native American life and the natural history of the region. A good selection of American Indian folk art, particularly Navajo rugs, is available at the gift shop. Open 9AM-5PM daily except some holidays. Fee.
  • The Arboretum at Flagstaff, [8]. This 200-acre botanical garden, environmental research station, and nature center displays one of America's largest collections of high country wildflowers. Daily guided tours at 11AM and 1PM. Wild Birds of Prey programs at 12PM and 2PM, Fridays through Mondays. Open daily 9AM-5PM, April through October. Fee.
  • Riordan Mansion State Historic Park, [9]. This fine example of an Arts and Crafts style house was built in 1904 for a prominent local family. Open daily 8:30AM-5PM May through October, 10:30AM-5PM November though April. Fee.
  • Arizona Historical Society-Pioneer Museum, [10]. This small state museum collects, preserves and exhibits artifacts, documents and photographs of the history of Flagstaff and northern Arizona. It also hosts a number of events thoughout the year. Open from 9AM-5PM Monday through Saturday. Fee.

Do

  • Alpine skiing. Arizona Snowbowl, [11], is one of only three ski resorts in the state of Arizona. Despite the surrounding desert, Flagstaff is a popular skiing destination for the Southwest due to the high elevation. Interestingly, the Snowbowl is one of the first ten ski resorts established in the United States. Snowbowl is in the San Francisco Mountains, which offer pleasant high-country hiking after the snow melts, including a trail to Humphreys Peak, highest mountain in Arizona. Access to some of the San Franciscos is restricted, as they're sacred to several of the area's Indian tribes.
  • Mountain biking, Hiking, and Rock Climbing. The area surrounding Flagstaff is a hotspot for such outdoor activities. Mount Elden is an excellent starting point, with numerous trails running up and alongside most sides of the mountain. One of the most popular Elden trails is Elden Lookout Trail, which scales all 2800 feet from base to summit, and has access to the lookout tower at the top which looks down on the entire city. Elden Lookout Trail can be accessed from Highway 89 across from the Flagstaff Mall and next to the Ranger Station. Many of the bicycle and outdoor sports stores in downtown Flagstaff carry "Favorite Hikes: Flagstaff and Sedona" and "Mountain Biking Arizona Guide: Fat Tire Tales and Trails", two excellent guidebooks written by local Flagstaff mountain bike enthusiast Cosmic Ray.
  • Take a trip to the Grand Canyon. Flagstaff is a portal city to the Grand Canyon. Many people stay in Flagstaff to avoid crowded and expensive hotels at the South Rim. There are many tour companies which can take you from your hotel, RV park or campground in Flagstaff and take you to the Grand Canyon. If you are going to be in Flagstaff, you might as well see one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
    • Angels Gate Tours, 112 Kletha Trail, +1-800-957-4557, [12].
    • Arizona Canyon Tours, +1-866-525-2675, [13].
    • Pygmy Guides LLC, Toll Free: 877-2pygmys(279-4697), [14] All inclusive Day Tours, Day Hikes and Overnight Backpacking Trips
    • Open Road Tours, +1-800-766-7117, [15]. Tours of the Grand Canyon, Colorado River Float Trips, Monument Valley, Petrified Forest, daily shuttles to and from Sedona, Grand Canyon, and Phoenix, plus group and charter services.
    • CenterFocus Experiences, +1-928-301-3211, [16]. An outdoor adventure company based in the Sedona area. They pride themselves on the ability to customize hiking, rock climbing, and canyoneering tours individually for you.

Eat

Flagstaff prides itself on its many fantastic yet affordable and friendly restaurants owned by locals. Most of the restaurants listed below fall into this category, and are noted if not.

Chinese

  • August Moon, 1300 S. Milton Road. No frills, but excellent Chinese food and friendly service. Delivery too.
  • Hunan East, 1926 N. Fourth St. (East Side) Great Chinese food in a casual atmoshpere.

Thai

  • Dara Thai, 14 S. San Francisco St. Downtown, centrally located serving decent Thai food. Get a seat by the window and view San Francisco Street while you dine.
  • Little Thai Kitchen, 1051 S. Milton Road. A Thai restaurant popular with locals.

Pizza

  • Roma Pizza, 1800 S. Milton Road. +1 928 779-4425. A well-established, locally-owned pizza joint serving New York style pizza, Italian dinners, salads, and deli sandwiches. Voted "Best Pizza in Flagstaff" 9 times. Long list of specialty pizzas and sandwiches, all day delivery too!
  • Fratelli Pizza, downtown location: 119 W. Phoenix Ave. East side: 2120 N. Fourth St. A pizza place that is well-loved by the locals. They have cheese, pepperoni, and pesto slices, and many specialty pies. Their pizza is hand-tossed, thin crust, brick oven pizza, like what is found back east.
  • NiMarcos Pizza, 101 S. Beaver Street. Locally owned and operated in Flagstaff for years, NiMarcos offers semi-thick crust pizza, salads and soft-serve ice cream. Go in and order your own pie or just buy a slice. Local favorite.
  • New Jersey Pizza Company, 2224 E Cedar Ave. Excellent choice for those looking for an all organic menu or more exotic options than the typical pizza restaurant offers.

Mexican

  • El Charro, 409 S. San Francisco St. Located between the campus of Northern Arizona University and the downtown area, this an authentic Mexican food restaurant. The cheese crisps are actually crisp and the enchilada sauce tastes how it should! Very afforable and very genuine.
  • La Fonda, 1900 N. Second St. (East Side). Same location since the 50s, this a well-loved Mexican restaurant with great salsa and authentic dishes. Is busy most times so expect to wait to be seated.
  • Kachina Downtown, 522 E. Route 66. Located on the eastern fringe of downtown, yet another great locally owned Mexican restaurant.
  • Casa Bonita Has great Mexican food and a great bar menu with afforable prices, though more expensive than some of the other local restaurants. A good family spot, but lacks authentic flavor. Located by the Wendy's on South Milton.
  • Garcia's Mexican Restaurant, 1900 S. Milton Rd., +1 928 779-1960. Solid food with a "Southwestern" (rather than "Tex-Mex" or "Old Mexican") flavor and comfortable service. Is an Arizona wide chain.

American/Southwest Cuisine

  • Macy's Coffeeshop, located on the south side of the tracks at 14 S. Beaver Street, they roast their own coffee and have lots of vegan foodstuffs. A favorite amongst the "hippies".
  • Horseman's Lodge located north of town on Highway 89 approximately 3 miles past the Flagstaff Mall. Open for dinner with a great salad bar. The place to go for a nice, tender steak! Decorated with a authentic ranch style atmoshphere.
  • Brandy's Restaurant and Bakery, 1500 E. Cedar Ave. Breakfast features quiche of the day, seven grain french toast, specialty egg dishes, homemade pastries and many other quality items. Lunch features tons of tasty sandwiches and burgers. Dinner is slighty more upscale but definitely afforable ($10-$15 a plate) and features the wonderful creations of Chef Sherman Johnson. Tequila Lime Chicken and Garlic Stuffed Pork just to name a couple. Dinner is only served Tuesday thru Saturday. Breakfast served until 2:30PM on Sunday.
  • Buster's, 1800 S. Milton Rd. Casual fine dining with decent food. A good place, but may be a dissapointment for those expecting the spectacular.

BBQ

  • Bigfoot BBQ, 120 N. Leroux St. Located in the basement of downtown Flagstaff's Old Town Shops, this is the place to go if you have a hankering for a pulled pork sandwich or a batch of fried okra. They even serve gourmet hotdogs. Owned by a Georgia native turned Flagstaff resident, you won't want to miss out on this!

Drink

For beer fans, Flagstaff boasts two brewpubs and one microbrewery.

  • Beaver Street Brewery, 11 S. Beaver St., +1 520 779-0079, [17]. Brewpub. Serves up a wide range of their own beers, as well as a good selection of reasonably priced and tasty German-style pub grub (sausages, mashed potatoes and the like).
  • Flagstaff Brewing, 16 E. Route 66, +1 520 773-1442, [18]. Brewpub.
  • Mogollon Brewing Company, 15 N. Agassiz, +1 520 773-8950, [19]. Microbrewery.

Sleep

Because of its close proximity to the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff boasts a wide array of hotels and other lodging, with over 5,000 rooms available. Cheap rooms are available at older non-chain motels, but you get what you pay for, and prices may not be that much cheaper than discount chains. Be sure to shop around and bargin as proprietors are often willing to drop prices during the off-season.

Many motels of the older variety are located along Route 66 east of downtown. More older hotels and most newer motels are located south of downtown along Milton Road. There are a few historic hotels downtown, as well as two hostels. Various B&B establishments can be found near downtown in older neighborhoods. Campgrounds and RV parks can be found on the outskirts of town. Note that the BNSF rail line is very busy and in many hotels train horn noise is prominent (though not overwhelming as no facility is directly on the tracks). Sensitive sleepers should look to the Milton Road area for more quiet. Visible from the I-40 freeway off the Butler Ave. exit on Lucky Lane is a large selection of national chain economy class hotels including Motel 6, Super 8 and Howard Johnson.

  • Amerisuites Extended Stay Hotel, 2455 S Beulah Rd, +1 928 774-8042, [20].
  • Best Western Kings House Motel, 1560 E Route 66, +1 928 774-7186, Toll-free: +1 888 577-7186, Fax: +1 928 774-7188, [21].
  • Best Western Pony Soldier Inn & Suites, 3030 E Route 66, +1 928 526-2388, Toll-free: +1 800 356-4143, Fax: +1 928 527-8329, [22].
  • Days Inn Flagstaff East near The Meteor Crater, 3601 East Lockett Road, Flagstaff, AZ, Phone: 800-261-0506, [23].
  • Fairfield Inn Flagstaff, 2005 South Milton Road, +1 928 773-1300, Toll-free: +1 800 574-6395, Fax: +1 928 773-1462, [24].
  • Hampton Inn & Suites Flagstaff, 3501 East Lockett Road, Flagstaff, AZ 86004, Toll Free +1 888 308-5298, [25].
  • Holiday Inn Express, 2320 E. Lucky Lane, +1 928 714-1000, [26].
  • Residence Inn Flagstaff, 3440 N Country Club Drive (off I-40 east), +1 928 526-5555, Fax: +1 928 527-0328, [27]. Comfortable hotel on the east side of town, featuring a seasonal pool and fireplaces in some rooms. Complimentary wifi and great breakfast spread. Doubles from $120, two-bedroom suites from $180.
  • DuBeau Route 66 International Hostel, 19 West Phoenix Street, +1 928 774-6731, toll free +1 800 398-7112, [28]. Beds start at $17 per night, private rooms start at $36 per night.
  • Grand Canyon International Hostel, 19½ South San Francisco Street, +1 928 779-9421, toll free +1 888 442-2696, [29]. Beds start at $19 per night.
  • Little America Hotel, 2515 E Butler Ave, +1 928 779-7979, [30]. Flagstaff's premiere luxury hotel, with a antique continental flair. One of the more unique hotel experiences that Flagstaff has to offer.
  • Embassy Suites Flagstaff, 706 South Milton Road, +1 928 774-4333, [31].
  • Radaisson Woodlands Hotel, 1175 West Route 66, +1-888-201-1718 US Toll Free. [32].

Camping

  • <sleep name="Black Barts RV Park; Steakhouse & Saloon" address="2760 E Butler Ave., Flagstaff, AZ 86004" " phone="+1-928-774-1912" url="http://www.blackbartsteakhouse.com"> Full Hookup with 50 amp service.

Stay Safe

Being a smaller city, Flagstaff does not have a huge crime problem, but there are certain areas that should be avoided, mainly at night.

Sunnyside, one of Flagstaff's larger neighborhoods, is located on the east side of town (bordered by Cedar Ave. on the north, 4th St. on the east, Izabel St. and Cedar Hill on the west and Route 66 on the south). Sunnyside is an incredibly diverse and interesting neighborhood but is also one of the most poverty stricken neighborhoods in the city. Most points of interest are restaurants located on the edge of the neighborhood in the business districts which are generally safe any time of day. The area has been inflicted with some gang activity, mostly in the very center of the neighborhood. Just don't walk the neighborhood at night or hang out in an area that seems unsafe.

The other area that becomes unsafe at night is some areas of what locals call the "South Side". South of the railroad tracks, west of Lone Tree Road, east of Milton and south of the NAU campus is the general designation of this area. The exception being most of the areas along South Beaver St. and South San Francisco St., which are safe even at night because the night-time music, restaurant and bar scene that takes place along these streets. Areas closer to campus and on side streets such as South O'Leary and South Fontaine should be avoided at night. Though a lot of college students inhabit the area, but so do drug addicts and transients along with some gang activity.

Flagstaff is generally a very safe city, but these two areas can be dangerous and threatening at night.

Get out

  • An unusual number of United States National Parks are close to Flagstaff, the largest and most famous of which is the Grand Canyon. Some others nearby:
    • Walnut Canyon National Monument [33] contains a number of Native American cliff dwellings built in a narrow canyon. Two trails allow good views of the ruins and the canyon. Fee; Park Pass applies.
    • Wupatki National Monument [34] contains a collection of Native American ruins scattered along a circular drive that also passes by Sunset Crater (an extinct volcano). Probably some of the finest outside of Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. Plan on spending most of the day on this loop drive. Fee $5, also entitling the visitor to entry to Sunset Crater; Park Pass applies.
    • Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument [35] At the southern end of the loop drive that connects it to Wupatki National Monument, this monument contains a relatively new volcano. The main eruption around 1064 C.E. built most of the cinder cone, with the last eruption in 1260 C.E. adding the spectacular to the cone's top. Fee, also entitling the visitor to entry to Wupatki; Park Pass applies.
The Barringer Crater
  • Barringer Meteor Crater [36] off of Interstate 40 east of Flagstaff offers another unique experience. This is an exceptionally well preserved meteor (impact) crater, although not the largest in the world as sometimes claimed. It is on private land, but the owners have done a good job of developing a visitor center that is informative, conservation-oriented and generally well done, in contrast to the many "tourist traps" along Route 66. See Winslow (Arizona) for details. Fee.
  • The detour through Sedona on the way South to Phoenix offers a scenic route west of the freeway.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!



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